Features / Television

Rethinking “30 Rock”: Why I stopped watching

I really wanted to like “30 Rock”.

Everyone still talks about it and it won a truckload of awards, plus it aired during the same NBC air block that featured “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” which to this day are two of my favorite shows of all time. At the surface, there was no reason I wouldn’t like a show, starring Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin, about running a television show at NBC. I’m one and a half seasons into it on Netflix. I stopped watching it earlier this week and don’t think I’ll go back. Why? I couldn’t feel a pulse coming from 30-some episodes.

The attributes of shows like its NBC cousins (“Office,” “Parks”) that got me hooked were characters I cared about; at least, characters I could roll with. “The Office” was a show that hooked me instantly because I could look away from the banter between Jim and Dwight. “Parks,” though, worried me for about a season and half because Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) hung around for a little too long. He was a character I despised, kind of like when “The Office” featured Holly, but I stayed in Pawnee nonetheless. Why? Because I adored Leslie, April, Andy, Ron, etc. Then, “Parks” added Ben and Chris to an already stellar ensemble. “30 Rock” had anywhere between five and 10 Mark Brendanawiczs.

Liz Lemon, albeit a great name for a character, didn’t grab me, nor did Baldwin’s character. And those two are the ones who needed to get me hooked, and so clearly not millions of fans hooked all those years ago. But between Jack’s monotone life and my frustrating non-interest in Lemon, I couldn’t possibly stick around to see what happened next.

Worse, the characters I was excited about before clicking play for the pilot episode were disappointing. I expected too much of Jane Krakowski, who put me to sleep instead. Jack McBryar is funny and Tracy Morgan is a riot, but I couldn’t catch on to their stories. It’s too bad.

The first season of “30 Rock” was 24 episodes, from which I expected some kind of up and down, but the show just simply isn’t what I expected. It’s one day-to-day account of the life of a television studio and I’m not sure I’m too interested. It seemingly suggests, all too often, that Liz and Jack belong together.

I appreciated how NBC threw shade on itself about making a show about it making shows. And there were a few good episodes. The one with Kenneth’s raging party was pretty funny. Also, the one with the prince. I can’t name many more.

The last show I ever came back to after struggling through one season was “Mad Men.” Frankly, I don’t see this story working out the same way. Now I’m in love with “Mad Men,” but I don’t foresee coming back to “30 Rock”.

If I do, I’ll let you know.


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